Ritu Sharma of Social Media for Nonprofits and Tracy Kosolcharoen from Eventbrite recently joined us for a webinar in which they showed how social media can influence event attendance, ticket sales and engagement for your nonprofit, using information based on analysis of over 60 events, in six different categories and 25 million posts from Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums.

In case you missed it, you can watch the full replay here:

Full Transcript:

Steven: Well ladies, my clock just struck 1:00. Do you want to go ahead and get started?

Tracy: Yes, thanks.

Ritu: Great.

Steven: All right, cool, let’s do it.

Tracy: Thank you.

Steven: Sure.

Ritu: Thank you Steven.

Steven: Well, good afternoon. Good afternoon, everyone, if you’re on the East Coast and good morning, if you’re on the West Coast. Thanks for being here for today’s webinar, Behind the Tweet using Social Media for Sold-Out Galas and Events. Thanks so much for being here. My name is Steven Shattuck. I’m the VP of marketing here at Bloomerang and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion.

And just before we get started, I want to let everyone know that we are recording this presentation. And we’ll be sharing the recording with you as well as the slide a little later on this afternoon. So if you have to leave early or if you want to perhaps, review the content later on, you’ll be able to do that. Just look for an e-mail from me in just a couple of hours after we finish the session.

And as you’re listening today, please feel free to use the chat box there on your webinar screen. We’re going to save some time at the end for Q&A session. So our guests will be answering questions live, for just about as much time as we have left. So don’t be shy. We’d love to answer your questions. We like to make the end a little interactive. So don’t be afraid to use that at all.

And just in case this is your first webinar with us, welcome. We do these webinars just about every Thursday, and in addition to producing webinars like this, Bloomerang also offers donor management software. That’s our core business. If that’s something you’re interested in, I would love for you to check out our website, learn more. You can even get a video demo of the software without having to speak to a salesperson. So check that out.

We won’t really talk much more about Bloomerang for the rest of today, because I want to go ahead and introduce today’s guests. We’ve got two presenters today. I’m super excited. Ritu Sharma is here, along with Tracy Kosolcharoen. Ladies, thanks so much for being here. I’m really excited to have you speak.

Ritu: Thank you Steven. Hi everyone. This is Ritu Sharma, I’m the CEO of Social Media For Nonprofits. We organize social media marketing trainings in different formats and conferences, webinars, like tweet chats and Leadership Salons in 13 cities in three countries. And we provide information to nonprofits and social impact organizations like you all, and how to use social media marketing to do fundraising, advocacy and events. We’re really excited to be partnering with Bloomerang, and I’ll pass it on to my co-presenter, Tracy. Tracy.

Tracy: Thanks so much Ritu. And thank you Steven as well. As Ritu mentioned, I’m Tracy Kosolcharoen and I manage marketing at Eventbrite. We are an event ticketing registration platform. And my role really is to do as much I can to enable nonprofit event organizers to more easily sell out their fundraising events and increase engagement from their supporters.

Ritu: Wonderful. Well, we’ll get started over here. Most nonprofits have events, whether they are gala, fundraising events, or events in training, conferences like ours or small trainings. Events are such an important part of how we gather our community. And it’s also a very big part of how many nonprofits do fundraising.

With times that are changing, we’re able to utilize social media marketing to really sell out and have a full house at these events. So we’re really excited to partner with Eventbrite that does amazing numbers of events and to bring some of those insights to you to see how social media from a very analytical perspective, how social media plays an important role in getting people in the room, getting them engaged, and also keeping them engaged on an on-going basis. I’m really excited to share that data and research with you all.

And we already have our introduction to you. With that we’ll get started. The speaker is all based on a lot of the research and I’m going to let Tracy speak about the research here in just a moment. But just to give you a framework of our conversation today, it’s going to be the overview of the study that was conducted by Mashwork and Eventbrite.

We’ll talk about how social media plays a role before the event, some breakout and learnings here. We’ll talk about how to utilize social media to engage the people that are already there, but also audiences that are not there, so you can incorporate them in the events in the future, talk about how social media can be utilized after the event. And then we’ll recap with key takeaways and taking questions at that point.

Tracy: Great. So going right into the research that was done. Before diving in, we really wanted to share just the thought and process behind the research initiative around fundraising events social media activity. We definitely understand that having conversations with supporters, sponsors, donors, volunteers there’s so many people around your event. It’s difficult if you don’t know what they’re talking about online.

So we really wanted to take a step back and listen to the conversations, and just analyze what people are talking about to provide you, the nonprofit fundraiser, with best practices around how you can engage with attendees before, during and after the event.

So to conduct this research, Eventbrite partnered with Mashwork. And that’s just a social insights firm. They were actually a custom research house and specialized really in the social space. And they actually have some great tools built specifically to analyze Twitter sentiments.

So we wanted to understand, when is social media activity happening? Is it before, during or after the event? And this is a really interesting study that we started off by first identifying specific fundraising events that we wanted to look at. And then Mashwork used machine learning technology to be able to categorize the posts into before, during and after the event, as well as what was the nature of the post. And after they’ve looked at hundreds of posts, they had effectively taught the tool an algorithm that they could extend to other posts. So we will go into all that into more details soon.

So next, to really frame up this presentation, the biggest question we were really asking is, when is this conversation taking place, for fundraising events, for all events. On this slide, you can see the breakdown of conversations is… really, the biggest part is, 82%, is happening before or during the event. This is really the critical time to amp up and make the most of social media interest.

So now we’re going to jump into social media, what we found about the activity before fundraising events. So you can see this chart here. The first big trend that we see before fundraising events on social media is that announcing a ticket purchase or promoting it is the most prominent type of conversation. This is for anyone who literally just bought a ticket. I bought a ticket at a table for a gala or I just made a hotel reservation for the fundraising event that I’m going to be attending.

And the reason these types of tweets are so successful for fundraising events, is that they have these humble brag component. It’s an opportunity for your audience to modestly share that they’re contributing to a good cause. And even though the motivation might be personal, these posts aren’t just self-promotion, they promote your event as well.

Eventbrite has found that 60% of Facebook shares are actually made after the sharers purchased the ticket. And these post-purchase shares impart 20% more additional ticket purchases than a share by someone who hasn’t purchased a ticket. So this portion, the ticket purchase component of social media activity, is just really, really, critical for your event. And by making a motivation to attend personal, we could see that people were really more likely to post about their engagement.

In the next category over, you could see ticket promotion. So we can see that many of the more exclusive events were actually putting out promotions for people to win tickets. This is all activity that’s coming from the nonprofit that’s organizing the event. It could be raffles to win tickets to galas, or early bird pricing, or some sort of special VIP experience. So you guys are already doing a great job of this. It’s clear you can see on this chart that that’s the biggest part. You’re doing a great job of promoting.

So what’s really interesting next is when you compare pre-event social media activity for fundraising event attendees, relative to other industries. There are peers attending concerts, conferences, or other for-profit events because there are some differences. What’s amazing about this, is that fundraising events actually over index significantly in the ticket purchase or promotion category. So these humble brag tweets are accounting for, you can see almost 21% of the total conversation.

You can see in the middle, there’s the anticipation post bucket, where nonprofit and fundraising events are actually under indexing. And what this is comprised of is pretty much what you would expect. It’s people that are expressing excitement about the event, how much they’re looking forward to it, a countdown, anything short of talking about their ticket purchase.

In the event preparation bucket, this is just excitement in sharing around any relevant events that are building up to the key event. For example, if it’s a fundraising, how much funds are being raised or if it’s a race, what sort of preparations are being made.

And what’s interesting also, moving farther to the right, is the pre-event media analysis and announcement bucket. Fundraisers actually received some of the lowest social media activity relative to other categories. So we’ll go into that a little bit later.

And then FOMO on the far right is fear of missing out. So again, there’s definitely an under index here and an opportunity to increase FOMO or the fear of missing out and we’ll talk about that very soon.

So moving into recommendations, our first big recommendation here is if you have a good thing, keep at it. You have a really, really positive audience of supporters, donors, ready to tweet about their ticket purchases, so spur further activity by building the excitement that leads to this free promotion. So really, first it starts with fueling anticipation. Give attendees or people who just like your event something to talk about. People can really only tweet once or twice about how they just bought a ticket. So you’ll need to give them sharable content so that they continue to express their participation.

An incredible 22% of the fundraising conversation was announcing a ticket purchase. So you can really take advantage of this to develop images that attendees can share to spread the news of their participation, or come up with even more creative ways to build off of that excitement.

And just some of the examples that we put here, you can see in the left that the historic garden week in Virginia actually posted some public media exposure that they got. In the middle, if there’s any sort of celebrity or VIP guest present, that’s something that’s really demanded by attendees and gets them really excited. So if you have anyone special that’s going to be attending your fundraising event, you definitely want to highlight that and make it clear to everyone. And then on the far right, just highlighting the event preparation.

So the next thing is you definitely want to create habit with consistency. You can do this by sharing your own progress. Races and marathons tend to do a great job of this by showcasing all the preparations. But even if you’re not a race or a marathon, you have plenty of build-up and an update that you can share. It can be anything from a weekly sponsor update, or it can be daily update from the money that you’ve raised to date.

And really, you can see also here in the examples, people highlighting the event preparation, any speaker that they’ve secured. You can even do a weekly sponsor update if you want to. So there are many different things that you can do to sort of string people along for the ride and really draw up anticipation every time you reach a key milestone to really make them feel like they’re a part of an event. And ultimately, the goal is just to make it really easy for them to assemble.

Next, as we mentioned earlier, the humble brag is definitely a thing that people really like to do. So now that you know that they’re more than happy to help promote your event, just take it as a golden opportunity at ticket purchase and make sure that you’re reminding everyone to tweet and post that they’re attending. Make them really proud that they’re participating. And you can see here that we just have people that are even highlighting the fact that people are attending. People are talking about the fact that they bought in. And then many other people are liking that post and some other people are buying in because of that. So definitely a great way to go.

Then next, we definitely encourage you, if you’re trying to spur activity, you’ll want to hold promotions. So you can see in this example, once someone purchases a ticket, they’re prompted to share that ticket on social media. And you can see that the value of that social media share is on Facebook. Each share leads to six additional visits and $3.22 back to the event. On Twitter, each share leads to 38 more visits and $5.30 incremental to your event. So social media really does have that ability to just amplify the works that you’ve already done, take it a little bit farther.

Another way to hold promotions is really to do contests. The classic ticket raffle, still, it’s timeless. It’s one of the most effective ways to increase the number of tweets about your event. And it’s something that we continue to see, even as we did this analysis. That was a big motivator, especially around private events that didn’t have as many people attending.

An easy way to organize a contest and increase circulation of your Twitter handle is to use the re-tweet method that we mentioned earlier. If you want to hear from your audience, just require use of your branded hashtag and track the entries. And really think strategically, if you’re asking a question and you want them to answer, think about, like what that social activity would look like. And you definitely just want to inspire your contestants to advertise for you.

You can also consider including an image to grab the audience’s attention and also add advertising without taking up precious characters, especially on Twitter where there’s a character limit. So we found that photos actually have an average of 18% more clicks. They have 89% more favorites and 150% more re-tweets than posts without pictures. So definitely if you’re looking to take up more real estate in the Twitter feed and really get additional eyeballs, then images are the way to go.

And the last piece really before we go into social media during the event, is to find your best promoters by using custom-tracking links. Sorry, I don’t know how that jumped. So you can see here that using custom-tracking links is just an important way to understand which of your channels are performing. We actually found that organizers that didn’t sell out track an average of 11.5 channels, while events that sold out used an average of about 15 channels. So it definitely does help.

And even just one example at Eventbrite, we actually found out that Google+ was surprisingly one of our more effective social channels. People tend to focus a lot on Facebook and Twitter, but it’s just a reminder through these unique tracking links that there were other channels that were actually being very effective and it gave us visibility. And so now we’ll toss it over to Ritu to talk about social media activity during the event.

Ritu: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for covering a wealth of information, Tracy, about before the event. Really a lot of the heavy lifting of social media does take place before the event, because that’s where you’re most attached to ROI, as well in terms of number of tickets and getting to invite a number of people, and donations and whatnot.

That’s where you want to really direct a lot of the time. You want to plan a good three to four months in advance and have a very solid editorial calendar about six weeks leading up to the event is what we recommend. It’s a very, very drumbeat strategy around making sure you’re posting very regularly and bringing people along.

Now the next phase, once you have sold out your event, hopefully by this point, is to continue to engage people during an event. It’s easy to say “Well, I already have my people and don’t worry about it.” But actually you also have to take a very long-term view of social media and events in general.

So we’re going to go ahead and talk about what are some of the different things you can do to keep your audience engaged and also build a long-term following. During an event, what you’ll see is simple ways to engage audience, especially if you do a conference or a gala, one of those, is to really keep people who are in the room engaged, interacting and contributing.

What you don’t want to do is just have your people tweeting. So you really want to make sure there are plenty of opportunities in your setup that inspire people to be part of it. You want people who are in the gala room, taking photographs and posting pictures. You want to have a photo booth. You want to have opportunities for live tweeting in a live ball, so people see the questions and comments and feel inspired to join in. So make sure your setup is the right setup.

And when that setup is correct, what are some things that you can inspire and encourage? Number one is quotes and media. Quotes are
basically, if somebody is saying something really inspiring or just something that can be condensed in one sentence, something that can be put on a simple blank image with just the quote signed in there, and you put a little image of the speaker or whether it’s a keynote speaker or a trainer, then you’ve got a really nice image to share during live tweets or during tweets and then you can use that content throughout the year.

Other medias, you are going to find nowadays that with Periscope and Meerkat and other tools available, we personally are using Periscope quite extensively. When you have the right kind of audience and a speaker, you want to not only do it yourself, where you’re Periscoping
if you have lots to say, if you have an aspiring keynote speaker, you want to Periscope that talk, which is basically live casting that talk for people who are part of your community and weren’t able to make it or weren’t sure if that was the right fit. They can get a sense of what kind of work you do and be connected to you.

You also want to go always one more step and invite people in the room to participate. That is where the factor and the entire world of shifting, it’s crowdsourcing. You’re no longer required to do it all by yourself and have one person for one thing and another for another. Empower and encourage attendees in your room to participate, make it a participant sport.

Then you have 10 people Periscoping, 10, 12 people live tweeting, people taking photos, then you have a really, really live event and people are going, “Wow, that looks like a really good event. What’s going on?” And they start marking your calendars to say, “Hey, I want to make sure I attend that one.”

And there’s nothing else… in our case, we’re a training organization heavily, we have people now cultivated over the last four to five years that actually joined us each city that we go to and they’ll basically follow us live. So they get a vast majority of our content online, so they’re able to join in and build community with like-minded people around the country.

As more percentage of people will also talk about their experience, and this is again, embracing transparency, some of them will talk about how wonderful their experience is and you want to acknowledge and thank them for that. But equally, you’ll also find people who may talk about, “Well, you know, the experience isn’t good” or “I’m having this difficulty” or “The room is cold” or “Internet is not working.” In that case also, you want to transparently recognize and acknowledge, “Yes, thank you for sharing that with us. Thank you for being part of the community, we’re addressing it.” And address that in a transparent way.

If it’s an argumentative and not really a conversation that needs to be had, which is a subjective matter, do invite them to come and have a conversation with you or find them and go have a conversation. But in general, you want to, in this time and age, you want to acknowledge both positive and negative conversation.

In terms of, let’s see, in terms of, about 42% of the conversation, as you can see about Quotes and Media, conversations relative to all events, in non-fundraising events, is about 4%. This is a pretty significant difference in terms of how people are interacting in a live environment. Going forward to breakdown of each type of content, which we talked about, 78% of people sharing during live events is pictures, and you’ll see a lot of people taking selfies.

You’ll see a lot of people taking videos, and then you’ll see a minority of people and those are the people who are more savvy in my opinion, who have access to tools and preparations. But for the most part, the largest portion of shareable content during any event is pictures. And we have a large, a big portion of them and also galas that makes perfect sense why that would be the case.

In this event, in this case as you can see from this graphic, you really want to crowdsource and you want to crowdsource different types of content. And you want to make opportunities available for people to join in into the conversation. And as I mentioned earlier, tweet walls make really, really a big impact on having people knowing you and feel comfortable in signing, their creative juices start flowing. You want to do pictures too as you’re, if you have a photo booth right there, you double or triple the number of people who would organically share because that’s a visual cue for them.

Talking about going forward, talking about what, how to do the catch link. In general, make it very visual, digestible and consistent. You want to
if there is a hashtag, you want to use that so you can go back and track that conversation. In general, as Tracy mentioned earlier, pictures do really, really well. Videos do well too, but videos in general are pretty significant consumers not on bandwidth, but pictures, good pictures really do take the day in terms of sharing.

In this example, you can see the Avon wall pictures, you are seeing people posting pictures of the day, people finishing the race, really trying to lift some of the highlights as an organizer. You want to lift the top highlights, you want to see a lot of attendants, you want to see your key people, whether it’s the 39ers, whether it is your favorite sports team, any media personalities you have in your event as well, you want to lift them because those are big drawers.

So those are the kind of content that do really well, in terms of capturing the highlights. You can see some examples of quotes, and examples of photos and different types of contents with their hashtags.

You also want to try and tag people so it gets in front of not only your own audience, but also the audience of people that are in your room. So make sure to have people’s hashtag or people’s twitter handles ready and always to tag and ready and give it to your live tweeters, the person who is the main person who is tweeting on your organization’s behalf. In our case, a social media non-profit, we basically print our program agenda for all of our events with everyone’s twitter handles, our twitter handle, so it’s very easy for people to quote speakers and such.

So make it, as an organizer, you really want to make it very easy for people to share the content and have the information that they may need to do the sharing. With this, I’m going to pass it back to Tracy to talk about how you can keep the momentum going.

Tracy: Thanks Ritu, and actually just one point to add around social media during the event. You didn’t really mention it here but I’m sure that you’re all seeing just a rise in Instagram usage. And I’ve been talking to a few organizers and some of them have actually found success with Instagram. It’s a very visual channel, just one tip that I wanted to throw in. If your goal is to get a spike on Instagram, you’ve got to try to make sure that the piece, the elements that you have at your event are actually positioned in a way that’s going to photograph well.

So you don’t need event designer or any sort of expensive, artistic things in your event. It’s really just taking what you already have. So for example, if you have event signage, people tend to really like to post event signage on Instagram. You just want to make sure that the signage is placed on a backdrop that might photograph well. Handwritten signage actually also tends to get bonus points. So if you don’t have the money to create like a really expensive sign, that’s actually fine because people seem to really like the authenticity of a handmade sign.

If you have any products being sold or distributed, just take a few extra minutes to arrange them on a display table, people seem to also really like to Instagram displays of anything, be it a floral display or displays of nametags or displays of food. So those are some ways that you can actually get a little bit more of an Instagram boost.

So and then the third thing is just, if you have any place that people can take photos of themselves, going back to the whole idea of selfies as Ritu mentioned, is it like a step and repeat, or do you have really big chair that people can all fit in together. So any place that you can sort of facilitate that Kodak moment is a great place to sort of jumpstart Instagram traffic.

Great. So now moving on to social media activity after the event. I’m going to move over here. So the first thing I want to point out is that post-event conversation as you can tell is 18%. It is much smaller than the pre- or during-event conversation. So really, it definitely does pay off to focus more of your efforts before and during the event but the after part is actually really important, too. And so here’s just a quick breakdown of what we saw people were talking about when it came to activity after the fundraising event.

Some of the biggest trends… well, first of all great news, this crowd is extremely positive. You can see it’s 2%, it might not seem very significant to you, 2% positive feedback, but when we flip it and compare this to all other events, for other for-profit events, social media activity actually does tend to have a bigger negative component to it. So it’s great but there are nearly no negative reflections after a fundraising event on Twitter. Their primarily positive feedback combined with media analysis, articles, anything else that came out, so the great thing is your audience is ready to support you after the event and spread the word.

The one area that we see improvement in is conversation is currently a very, very small part of fundraising posts. So they’re very positive, how can we make it bigger? So our recommendation is to really harness this positive energy and keep the conversation going year round, especially if you have only one event per year. That’s going to be extra important because there’s no other event to sort of keep that activity going. So definitely recommend curating that content, gathering the feedback and keeping everything going.

So starting just with curating content, you can definitely re-tweet positive feedback from attendees. This will encourage more engagement, it will provide you with organic promotion. and your attendees won’t be the only ones that are impacting from this. It’s actually
if we go back to the formal concept, when people talk about how great your event is, other people around them will see exactly what they missed out on. And this post-event FOMO is actually really important for driving attendants at your event next year.

So it might be a really, really far in advance, but it actually does have a big benefit. And you can see on the examples on the slides here, Surfrider Foundation just posted a few photos. I really like the YouTube example in the middle. It’s a video, and one of the things that is great about fundraising events is that you already have video-worthy speakers that people love to share, you have a great cause.

And so these are the things that you can actually make wildly available after your event to continue amplifying and driving engagements. And then you also have the example of Make-A-Wish on the right, just really sharing, look at everything that awesome that you may have missed out on, it sorts of drive the FOMO. And another thing again
so we mentioned amplifying the positive feedback here, I’m going to skip over that.

Another tip here is that you should definitely share any sort of inspirational moment and fundraising records with the public, if you’ve generated, if you’ve beat your fundraising goal. Post-event in media analysis, we found is just only 1% of Twitter conversations, and the pre-event media is only 2%. So I think there’s really an opportunity to either reach out to local media outlets and partner with them and really have their help recapping your event. And then when you see that activity, you’ll definitely just want to amplify it back out.

An interesting thing here is, when it comes to media, we can actually take an example from some non-fundraising events. We’ve seen that conferences are actually pretty successful at maintaining conversation after the event, and over half of their posts include media coverage. So why, it’s sort of there’s a TED talk strategy. Conferences tend to make videos of their speakers available online. They do inspirational clips. They do a lot of recaps. So the more that you can do to sort of again, curate the content and make it available to people will actually help give the media content that they can repurpose in whatever articles they put out.

Another thing that you can take a cue from is just races and endurance events. They also generate a lot of post-event media coverage because they spend a lot of time sharing out spotlights, any best times, any best performances. And so you can actually take that concept and apply it to your fundraiser.

Can you spotlight a huge contributor that really came in and made a big impact? Or can you spotlight any one sponsor? Any way that you can make your story appeal to the masses, by making it personal, any way you can honor your donor, or even create like an infographic of the most interesting numbers from the event, can really help your social media activity continue after it’s over. And so another last tip that we want to have is just to be tactful of negative feedback. And for the most part, as we see, the negative feedback is going to be small, but it’s definitely still a great idea to be able to address it if it comes up.

So we have three tips here, and the first is to turn a negative into a positive. You want to thank people for providing input and letting you know what they didn’t enjoy, so that you can improve their event again for the next year. So it’s really just acknowledging that.

And the next one is to be mindful of your bandwidth. Sometimes negative feedback can be a little bit overwhelming, especially if you’re just one person handling social media for your entire organization and you’re also obviously trying to focus on the other positive feedback that’s coming in. So you won’t have time to respond to every single tweet or post, so just accept that and pick the key ones that you want to respond to.

And the last one is, you can’t make everyone happy, haters are going to hate, and just try your best to be gracious about the negative feedback that comes in and move forward and channel it into your next event.

Ritu: Yeah, I would really add to that. I think this is something we see quite a bit in the social sphere. A lot of people in the non-profit sector don’t really embrace social media as much, primarily because of sort of the perception of letting go of control and the negativity that comes with it. I think it’s important to recognize that people just want to be heard and acknowledged.

And as long as you view that with kindness and compassion and understanding, that people really do, even the most negative people, do turn around. They’ll maintain
they know that this is a factor of doing good work. And there will be some people that are unhappy. And if you approach the conversation with kindness and compassion, and just understanding and not taking it personally, you’ll be able to sail through all of this. And also, not only inspire people who are negative to turn into a fully positive, but also set a good talent and example for your community to see how to do this.

And as we’ve said a couple of times earlier, acknowledge all feedback, address negative feedback with empathy. Finally don’t delete negative comments, do leave your comments and your very positive response to it. And do feel free to delete trolls and profanities and irrelevant status jacking. That’s you being a good steward of the community and the conversation. So do, do that and with that we will do a quick recap of what we covered.

We covered that before an event, you want to fuel anticipation, you want to embrace the humble brag, you want to prepare people for the event and encourage ticket purchase sharing. That’s one of the most important things you can do, is really help people help you spread the word. We’re going to getting to during the event, you want to push content that’s visual and digestible, and really facilitate by creating the opportunity, creating the right moment and providing tools like pictures, booths, and picture studios and props and stuff to enable people to take good pictures and be excited.

And then the next and final is, don’t let your event end with the event, keep the conversation going with curated content. Use your event where you’re spending a lot of time and energy to get good content and quotes and photos and videos for months to come. That is your way to get a lot of ROI on your work and have that ready through all your own content and not just shared content from other people.

Bring your own content and share that throughout the month and then also, repurpose and use that next year, as you start promoting the event. So the full cycle of social media before, during and after. With that we’re going to pass it over to Steven to facilitate questions. We’ve left quite a bit of time, and we’re happy to answer any questions, Tracy and I. So do bring them on and there’s no question that’s too simple, feel free to ask.

Steven: Yeah, that was great ladies. Thanks so much for sharing all that info, I love all the data. It’s good to have data that actually backs up what you think people should do. That was awesome, I really enjoyed just listening along and learning along with the attendees. So are you okay to stick around for a little while for some Q&A. We’ve got a lot of questions in here we can roll through if that’s okay with you?

Ritu: Absolutely.

Steven: So I’ll discuss it from the top. Megan here was wondering, “How do you balance events that have limited space and therefore, limited number of attendees?” So maybe they don’t want to get the word out too much, it’s a small gathering. Is that something that you can still promote through social media? What would you say to Megan who’s planning maybe a smaller event?

Ritu: That’s a good problem to have. That is not a common problem that non-profits like to have. I would say you may have limited physical space and bandwidth but ideally, you really want it, you have that kind of community that is going to sell out that quickly. You still want to really promote the event extensively.

You want to use that as a community building opportunity and let people know when they get close to the sold-out point, “We’re pretty close to being sold out or we’re sold out” and find ways to engage them through live tweeting, Periscoping, live casting through different ways. But also give them an opportunity to support the work, through volunteering and donating.

I would say it’s a rare occasion and it’s actually very good for your brand next year if you consistently sell out events. Then people start to buy them sooner and they start to associate this with a very high value event, any event that’s sold out, that’s basically a very high demand, that’s an indication of high demand.

So I wouldn’t hold back. I would just promote, “We’re sold out. We’re sorry we’ll be accommodating more in the future.”
Steven: Makes sense. Oh, go ahead Tracy.

Tracy: Oh yeah, sorry. I was just going to add that agreeing with Ritu, that I think there’s a brand awareness component that can really be beneficial on social media, even if your event is small. It’s still really beneficial to be able to get media attraction and so the more that you can spread awareness about your event and gain more publicity on that front, it just benefits the organization outside of the event alone, so absolutely.

Steven: Here’s one from Jacob. Jacob says that his annual gala is in May, and he’s wondering how early they should start promoting it on social media? What do you ladies think about timing, in terms of when they get started. Is it the month before, is it six months before or is it a whole year? Does it, maybe it differentiates between the event. But what would you say to Jacob there on timing of when to get started?

Tracy: Yeah, I would say there’s a lot of different approaches, Ritu feel free to chime in. But I mean, we definitely see, you can do a sort of teaser approach, where you start promoting tickets far in advance of when they’re actually available or your event. A lot of times people do that just to drum up anticipation. But we also see a lot of people who just start promoting around six to eight weeks in advance of the event. So it sort of depends, there’s… I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong answer to starting very early and building anticipation versus starting maybe six to eight weeks so you stay top of mind. I think both can work.

Ritu: Absolutely. I would share some data on our end and this is the data that I’ve seen at several events, platforms actually. You want to announce the event as early as you can as a non-profit. So you want to save the date and whatnot. But the actual, 90% of the time is what we’ve seen over the last 70 events that we’ve tracked the data on, about three weeks before the event is when it really takes a very big rise and the rise and the peak in the registration correspond directly to major social pushes and most importantly, which we didn’t very much, email distribution.

Those are the ones that really peak. So if you’re going to rely on email, which is a very good strategy to use that in conjunction with social, is to do… as soon as you can but then six weeks, you really are on a very tight schedule. Six to eight weeks is what we’ve seen across the board, but don’t be disheartened if you don’t see much traction until about two to three weeks before the event. That’s very normal.

Steven: What about frequency of posting? A couple of folks have asked about how often they should maybe tweet or post on Facebook. Is it every day? Is it multiple times a day? Are there dangers of posting too much? A couple of people said they are worried that maybe they’re going to overload their followers. What do you think about frequency of posting?

Ritu: I was going to go into that. In general, you want to follow a rule of 80/20, which is 80% of your content has to be about the work you do, the impact you have and good content. And about 20% of any content be about promotional stuff. So what we recommend is if you’re posting two times, two to three times a day on Twitter, up to seven times a day on Twitter about the work that you do, one or two of those be about the promotion and rotate the times you cast different people at different times.

So you want to do, if you do the post… the only platform that really penalizes you for over-posting is Facebook. If you post too frequently, say every day or twice a day about promoting the event, eventually you’re going to tire some people and they will feel that it’s all of your posts and they will start to disconnect from your profile, either by unfollowing or hiding and worst yet, completely disconnecting.

Some days, in our six week schedule, two times, three times a week is more than enough and at different times. The week of the event, you could do every other day or even once a day. Just be very mindful that all the comments are not about buy now, they’re not just about buy now. But they’re more about, “Hey, here’s what’s happening, here’s the exciting thing.”

Steven: Makes sense. Yeah you can kind of scale up as you get closer to the event. That’s good advice too. So here’s another question that more than a few people have asked. What about folks who have their audience who may not be super heavy social media users, maybe they’re older or they’re in a rural environment, not to put across any stereotypes about people. But what would you say to those folks who aren’t sure that they’re audiences necessarily on social media? Do you think they should still do it or maybe scale back a little bit? What about those folks?

Tracy: I would say absolutely. I’m thinking actually right now about a specific example. There’s a really great event that’s called Southern Makers and it’s actually based out of Alabama. And the principle of Southern Makers is, they’re highlighting makers in the South really obviously, it’s implied by the name. But they actually managed to increase their Instagram tags by 174% year over year. They increased their Facebook page likes, I want to say by like 70% year over year.

They did a really fantastic job in an area that really, historically, I think they were being very, very forward in using all of these technologies. So I guess the first thing is that it can be done and the way that they did it was
I mean, it was a couple of things, but they actually tried to send out a few emails, if you want to encourage people to be using social during your event you could even send out emails before your event, just telling them about what platforms you’re going to be on, reminding them about Instagram or Twitter or something.

So if it’s an audience, where social is a little bit less intuitive, a little bit less second-hand, you can just send out some pre-event emails, reminding them to participate when you’ll be on. And then another thing they did was to just sort of precede the conversation at the event with some really nice looking tweets and Instagram posts that also contains their branded hashtags, so people could see those things and sort of latch on to them and either repost them or even just be inspired like, “Hey, that’s a great photo, I want that photo on my feed too.”

That’s where actually it can really help to have a volunteer social media coordinator at your event just, anyone that just happens to like socially pick them and have them monitor so that any activities that comes through, they can amplify it and sort of encourage people to keep going. I think especially for audiences where social media is a little bit less used, it’s helpful to have someone that’s responding very proactively on that channel, so that there’s very positive reinforcement.

Steven: Well here’s another question from Kenny and perhaps this is a little bit timely because I see brands struggle with this pretty often. Kenny is asking, when do you recommend addressing negative feedback publicly versus privately, so responding right there on social media or maybe moving it to like a private message. Should you always respond publicly or are there cases where you might want to move that offline or perhaps to a little bit more private mechanism like a direct message or Facebook message?

Ritu: I do a lot of speaking and research around this area. I would say that if a question or a comment or a feedback is provided to you in a public forum, you should at the very minimum acknowledge it. And whether or not you fully address it, you must acknowledge it so that the community that you are around see that you are transparent, that you are listening to them and people are being heard and it’s not an internet managing it. So you always want to acknowledge, no matter what.

Now, if it’s a very tricky question, if it’s something simple as, “Hey, turn the lights down or heat up or we can’t find this.” If it’s a quick little thing, you want to answer that question, especially if it helps other people. So the key differentiation in when to do it publicly and when to do it privately, which is beyond acknowledgement is if this is an issue that other people might be experiencing and by answering it publicly, are you helping multiple people and being efficient, that’s one.

And two, if it’s a very subjective, private matter, in terms of, “I called and I didn’t get an answer and this happened,” you do acknowledge and apologize if needs be or at least say, “Hey, we’re sorry to hear this is the case, we regret it.” And then there are times when a matter is between two people and it’s not necessarily something that would benefit the community, then you take it offline and invite them for a polite conversation, either to a direct message or invite them to have a call with you or meet if that’s on a live event.

But start always with acknowledging right at the forum that it was asked because they thought it was appropriate to do that. And you want to let them know that you’re an open and transparent growing organization.

Steven: Yeah, that’s excellent advice. So we talked a little bit about metrics and Chris here was wondering, what’s a reasonable goal for social media traffic? What’s a good goal for likes and comments and shares should you set those goals yourself? How wrapped up should you be in how well the posts are actually performing, in terms of likes and shares and comments and things like that?

Tracy: That’s a great question. I would say from my end, Ritu, you can chime in if you have more tangible feedback around goals. From my end, I would say that part of the goal should stem on what… how many people are you looking to attend your event. If your social media activity is looking to drive towards a ticket sale or to ultimately fill in your event really, then you sort of want to back into… based on each channel, how many people do you think you need to fill your event and that’s sort of how you should back into it.

If you think that any one channel isn’t going to drive enough tickets to fill your event, then you just want to add on more channels. So I would use the total event capacity as a driver that you can back into your event goals. And it’s also something that you want to continue monitoring progress on. So if you find that any one channel is driving fewer tickets than in other channels, then that’s when you want to start recalibrating and potentially shifting resources from one to another. But Ritu, I’m sure you have some really good thoughts on this as well.

Ritu: I think it’s just a matter of… first of all, thank you for sharing that. That’s a good approach. You always want to back into what’s your goals and come back into it. But in general, be aware of absolutes, because every one of your organizations is unique. So is ours. So everybody has different communities and different goals and different metrics. There’s really, honestly never believe anyone who says, here is an absolute number of what you need. What you’re looking for is not being a ghost town.

When you post on Facebook you don’t want to look like nobody’s interacting with you. So you must be in a seasoned conversation, if that’s what it takes. That means you form a volunteer committee, you always get more volunteers than you often need. If not go to VolunteerMatch and similar services and actually just make a volunteer team of 10 to 15 people who’ll give you maybe 15 to 20 minutes a week. That’s it. And their job is to go in and comment and like and share, add articles that support your point. So you are feeding the conversation.

Keep this in mind when you’re looking at this. You’re looking at, in two rooms, one room is, both are beautifully decorated and both have parties going on. One has nobody in it and the other is full of people and conversation is taking place. If you’re at the doorway, naturally everybody wants to go where there’s a party already and nobody wants to be alone. And people are uncomfortable being in like that way, many people are.

So you want to make sure that when you’re posting things that you want to see comments on, and you want it to go viral or spread a lot, you see that comment with your volunteer committee. That is the number one tip I can give you, is you have plenty of opportunity to hire people from all over the country or the world for that matter, to be a social media ambassador, where they’re trolling for good in my opinion. Basically they’re commenting, liking, sharing, adding research to things. That’s a very important thing to do because social media can be a very consuming job and you alone can’t do it, most non-profits can’t.

So do feel free and I really encourage you to form social media ambassadors committee. And then whatever happens is organic after that. When people are commenting and liking, make sure your staff is doing that too because if you’re not interacting with your own organization, your partners, you can’t expect outsiders to be excited about these kinds of news. So cultivate a genuine culture of sharing and having conversations as an organization and staff online. So people are interacting with each other and create the vibe of an engaged community and then it takes off from there. Then it becomes sort of the norm for that community.

It’s very interesting how these things are formed. So you do have to do some heavy lifting upfront, and then you’ll see people start to interact with your content more and more because specifically, in case of Facebook, it let’s Facebook algorithm know that you are a happening community, so they show more of your post. So it’s very important to understand the science behind that. And sorry for the long answer by the way.

Steven: Oh no, don’t apologize, it’s awesome. Well we’ve got about 4 minutes left before 2:00 and I don’t want to keep people too long, if they haven’t eaten lunch or breakfast. So maybe we can end on one last question. It’s from Daniel, and Daniel says he’s got a brand new non-profit, brand new organization and he is planning their first event. What kind of advice would you have for Daniel, it’s a new organization and who is also planning his first event, other than using Eventbrite, which I think you should be Daniel because it’s great. But what advice would you ladies have for Daniel for getting that started?

Tracy: Yeah, that’s a great question, I’m thinking about… Oh go for it.

Ritu: Let me… go ahead. When I was a, actually I did not… it’s a first-time event he said?

Steven: Yeah, first event and it’s a brand new organization as well Ritu.

Ritu: Well, I would start with really, getting friends and colleagues and people that are engaged with the cause and start to get them involved. It’s kind of like anything you start, people that are closest to you that you go and you would have conversations with, get to start and involve and make host committee people that are there to help you, sort of spread the word and stuff. And definitely, as you’re starting, especially when you’re young, you want to really start with a big blast. It always helps, catch theme and you want to incorporate a lot of volunteers.

That’s one thing I can say to anybody that’s starting small or starting a new organization. There’s a really, really good… I wish I knew all the tools when I started five years ago. Just because you’re small and you’re starting, doesn’t mean you have to do very little. You can find people who are willing to do a lot of these things for you on different channels. So find those channels and I have a lot of individuals now that I can direct you.

I don’t know which geographic area you are, but in these different cities, I’ll give you an example. Different cities have workplace development available to them. So for example $2,000 for a brand new hire for 90 days to six months because they’re trying to rehabilitate people and that’s when they come from the city to your non-profit and you’ll have a full time person for three to six months while you’re ramping up.

There are a lot of fellowships like New Sector leaders, there is Public Allies, which gives you a 10 month full-time fellow, a fresh graduate with a couple of years of experience, for a full time for as little as 15 or 16,000. That’s not even $1,500 a month for full-time employment. So there’s so many of these resources out there that you probably don’t know about. That there are cities subsidized employment get a lot of fellowships. So make sure you’re not trying to do all of it by yourself because that can be very isolating and tiring.

Steven: Yeah, absolutely. Well cool we’re about out of time and I know we didn’t get to all the questions so Ritu and Tracy is it fair to say you’ll be willing to take questions maybe by email or Twitter or whatever, is that a fair assumption to make?

Tracy: Absolutely.

Ritu: Absolutely.

Steven: I thought you would both say yes. So please reach out to them. Obviously super smart. This is great. Thanks so much to the two of you for taking an hour, more than an hour out of your day actually, if you include prep to putting this all together for us. It was really awesome to have you both.

Ritu: Thank you for making this happen. Thank you for having us.

Tracy: Thank you.

Steven: Yeah and thank you to all of you who took an hour out of your day to join us today. We do do these webinars every Thursday. If you go to our resources page you can see probably three or four webinars we’ve got scheduled out into the future. You may see a topic there that you’re interested in. You can check out our blog and all of our downloadable resources as well, we’d love to keep the conversation going.

And we hope that we see you again on another Bloomerang webinar, so thanks for being here. Look for an email from me in just about an hour or so. We’ll be sending out the recording as well as the slides, so you can relive all the content or share it with anyone who might benefit from it. So we’ll say goodbye there. Have a great rest of your day and hopefully we’ll see you next week or sometime soon. So take care now.

Ritu: Thank you. Have a great day everyone.


Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.